Starbucks CEO: On second thought, ObamaCare doesn’t look so good
posted at 1:36 pm on March 22, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
When Congress passed ObamaCare, Democrats countered Republican criticisms that it would damage small businesses and the economy by pointing out the support of people like Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks. Schultz threw his weight behind ObamaCare because health-insurance costs at Starbucks had exceeded their costs of coffee itself, and Schultz liked the idea of government intervening to prevent “literally a fracturing of humanity for almost 50 million Americans not to have health insurance.” But now that ObamaCare has begun its roll-out, Schultz no longer likes what he sees (via Politico):
Q: Starbucks was vocal about [wanting] health-care reform. How do you feel about how it worked out?
A: We have been a leader for almost 20 years now in demonstrating our heartfelt commitment to making sure that we provide health coverage for the majority of our people.
That cost last year was $250 million. We have faced double-digit increases for almost five consecutive years with no end in sight.
So, when I was invited to the White House prior to health care being reformed, I was very supportive of the president’s plan, primarily because I felt it was literally a fracturing of humanity for almost 50 million Americans not to have health insurance.
There’s no plan that would be a perfect plan, but the intent of the bill and the heartfelt commitment to insure the uninsured is the right approach. I think as the bill is currently written and if it was going to land in 2014 under the current guidelines, the pressure on small businesses, because of the mandate, is too great.
Hopefully Schultz isn’t as fast and loose with his corporate numbers as he is with the statistics for the uninsured, or else he’s going to have a heck of a time with Sarbanes-Oxley. Of the “almost 50 million Americans,” really 46.5 million from the 2009 Census analysis, more than a quarter of them were foreign-born residents (12.3 million), with only 2.8 million of those naturalized citizens. More than a third, 17.8 million, had household incomes at or above the national average of $50,000 and could afford to buy insurance on their own. Throw in the Medicaid/CHIP underreporting, and the number comes closer to 17 million uninsured without choice.
The “fracturing of humanity” nonsense aside (was humanity fractured before employer-based insurance came along, and did it magically heal at that time?), the massive costs of ObamaCare could have been avoided and insurance provided to those 17 million at a fraction of the price, without the kind of interventions that Schultz now belatedly decries. Instead, thanks to Schultz and other big-business CEOs looking to offload health-insurance costs onto taxpayers, the mandates and the leviathan bureaucracies to come will suck the life out of the economy, especially for small businesses. All of this was entirely predictable before Schultz decided to throw in for statist intervention.
But let’s not stop with Schultz in this interview. Having just heard a repudiation of ObamaCare from one of its more prominent private-sector champions, did Seattle Times reporter Melissa Allison follow up with any tough questions about what Schultz would do to push back against ObamaCare — or even ask another clarifying question? Er … not exactly:
Q: Over the years, you’ve tried to attract more people into your stores in the afternoons. How is that going?
I think we’ve found a real-life replacement for “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”
Heritage does the follow-up that the Seattle Times avoids. Why will ObamaCare hurt small businesses? An Indiana franchisee of IHOP explains that the costs will outstrip profits per employee, which means layoffs, cutting benefits, and an end to expansion plans: